Sewage Spill Notification

Alabama Summer Recreation Season Begins Today Despite Sewage Threats

Alabama Summer Recreation Season Begins Today Despite Sewage Threats

Though millions of Alabamians are ready for summer outdoor recreation, their nearby sewage treatment facilities may not be. Alabama still lacks comprehensive regulations for minimum standards of public notification when sewage spills occur.

Report: Daphne Utilities Released Bacteria 4000% Above Legal Limit in January

Report: Daphne Utilities Released Bacteria 4000% Above Legal Limit in January

Mobile Baykeeper has once again discovered ongoing violations by Daphne Utilities. With Daphne Utilities releasing nearly three million gallons of partially treated sewage every day in January, the 4000% violation of legally allowable bacteria levels amounts to approximately 4.6 trillion colonies of bacteria above the legal limit being released into Mobile Bay during the month.

Mobile Baykeeper Files Lawsuit Against Daphne Utilities for Clean Water Act Violations

Mobile Baykeeper Files Lawsuit Against Daphne Utilities for Clean Water Act Violations

The utility has failed to comply with its permit by falsely reporting, failing to report, and underreporting sewer spills into local rivers, creeks, and bays. 

Alabama Sewage Permits Become More Protective of Citizens

Alabama Sewage Permits Become More Protective of Citizens

Due to the efforts of water advocacy organizations throughout the state, sewage plants will not have to meet tighter limits for E. coli bacteria to make it safer to swim and fish in Alabama waterways. 

New Tools to Alert You of Sewage Spills

New Tools to Alert You of Sewage Spills

Thanks to those who took action and wrote letters demanding better public notification of sewer spills, ADEM has made two new tools available to the public that begin to help address the issue of notification.

D'Olive Creek Sewage Spill

D'Olive Creek Sewage Spill

A lightning storm knocked out power to pumps at Daphne Utilities Wastewater Treatment Plant. The outage lasted approximately 12 hours and approximately 500,000 gallons of sewage spilled into D'Olive Creek.

Fly Creek Sewage Spill

Fly Creek Sewage Spill

It is Mobile Baykeeper's firm belief that utilities must do their utmost to review their systems, determine where deficiencies exist, invest in their systems, and when a spill occurs ensure that immediate and widespread notification takes place!

State Rejects Petition for Better Public Notification of Sewage Spills But Will Conduct Study to Improve Public Notification

For Immediate Release: April 21, 2017
Contact:
Casi Callaway
Executive Director and Baykeeper
Mobile Baykeeper
(251) 433-4229; callaway@mobilebaykeeper.org

Eva Dillard
Staff Attorney
Black Warrior Riverkeeper
(205) 249-4743; edillard@blackwarriorriver.org

Water Protection Groups’ Statewide Petition Pushed for Better Process to Warn Public of Dangers

Montgomery, AL— Today, Alabama’s Environmental Management Commission (“EMC”) voted to deny a statewide petition filed by nine water protection groups to initiate rulemaking to require better public notification of sewage spills and overflows. In doing so, the EMC announced plans to study the issue and consider rulemaking at a later date to improve public notification of sewage spills.

“We are disappointed that the EMC did not accept our petition and move immediately to create rules that would secure the public’s right to know when and where sewer spills occur.” Casi Callaway, Executive Director & Baykeeper for Mobile Baykeeper stated. “The fact that they agree better notification is needed is still a win for public health and families. We look forward to working with ADEM and sewage treatment facility operators to develop robust notification procedures that enable our families to make informed decisions about where to swim, fish and play in our area waterways and allow them to protect their health.”

Alabama Rivers Alliance, Black Warrior Riverkeeper, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Coosa Riverkeeper, Friends of Hurricane Creek, Little River Waterkeeper, Mobile Baykeeper, and Tennessee Riverkeeper submitted the petition, which was publicly supported by dozens of other conservation and recreation groups

Recent high profile events, like a major sewage overflow in Northport which put up to 4,000,000 gallons of sewage into the Black Warrior River right before the busy July 4, 2016 weekend, highlighted this pressing problem and prompted the petition. Public concern has grown significantly in recent weeks with widespread media coverage of the petition as well as an interactive map the groups released showing 2016 sewage spills. In only two weeks that online map has been viewed over 32,000 times.

Although wastewater treatment plants are required by Alabama law to “immediately” notify the public of sewage spills, presently there are no regulations which specify a time, plan or even a bare minimum level of notification.

According to Black Warrior Riverkeeper Staff Attorney Eva Dillard, “The objective of the petition was to ensure a uniform, consistent minimum standard of sewage spill notification across the State, to reach the maximum number of people possible. We are disappointed that the EMC did not accept the petition and begin rulemaking immediately, but glad they plan to address this important public health and safety issue. We look forward to working with them and other stakeholders to fix public notification in Alabama. ”

For a copy of the petition, click here.

To see the 2016 interactive sewage spill map to check out where spills occur in your community, click here.

To see a map of sewer spills occurring in Mobile and Baldwin counties, click here.

For a high resolution photograph of a recent sewage spill on Bolton Branch, click here.

Interactive Map Released Highlighting Sewage Spills Across Alabama

Interactive Map Released Highlighting Sewage Spills Across Alabama

The data from the map shows that between 28.8 million - 42.6 million gallons of sewage overflows were reported in 2016, not including the 9% of spills reported that did not include a volume estimate. However, the true number of spills that actually occurred is far higher than the map indicates as there were many spills that were reported with incomplete data or not reported at all.